By Dan Raviv
Friday’s New York Times had a fine front-pager on the decision-making and some methodology with regard to a joint U.S.-Israeli cyberwar against Iran’s nuclear program. The excellent David Sanger obviously pushed his sources hard for details, and reports that President George W. Bush approved the covert campaign — apparently as an alternative to the airstrikes that Vice President Dick Cheney recommended. And then Bush handed off the program to Barack Obama, who has embraced it energetically and attentively.
Sanger makes an interesting connection, when discussing how the Stuxnet worm — designed to take control of, then destroy, some uranium-enriching centrifuges in Iran — was tried out on some old centrifuges. He reports that some of the P-1 centrifuges that Libya’s Moammar Qaddafi handed over to the U.S. and Britain were transferred to a storage facility in Tennessee, and that’s where they were tested. Sanger also mentions the high-tech unit of Israel’s military intelligence (Aman) agency, Unit 8200.
So now (first time we’re doing this) here’s a sliver of an excerpt from our book, SPIES AGAINST ARMAGEDDON (to be officially published July 9). Revelation: Chapter 1 is titled, “Stopping Iran”:For a better understanding of Iran’s enrichment process, old centrifuges—which Israel had obtained many years before—were set up in one of the buildings at Dimona, Israel’s not-so-secret nuclear facility in the southern Negev desert. They were nearly identical to the centrifuges that were enriching uraniumin Natanz.
The Israelis closely watched what the computer worm could do to an industrial process. The tests, partially conducted also at a U.S. government lab in Idaho, took two years.
Virtual weapons of destruction such as Stuxnet can be emailed to the target computer network, or they can be installed in person by plugging in a flash drive. Whether hidden in an electronic message or plugged in by an agent for the Mossad, the virus did get into the Natanz facility’s control system
sometime in 2009.
We also write about where and how Israel got those centrifuges, and I think our book will have a surprisingly complete story of how Israel obtained everything it needed for what we’ll gently call a robust nuclear program. Let’s just say I’m working on the index of the book this weekend, and the name “Dimona” comes up very often in this 350-page history of Israel’s intelligence community. My writing partner Yossi Melman has more to say…